The art of Serigraphy is well established, and owning one is an excellent art purchasing decision!
History: Serigraph combines the Latin word for “silk” seri, and the Greek word for “to write”, graphos. This ancient method of duplicating an original painting is one of the oldest forms of printing. Serigraphy can be traced as far back as 3000 BC when stencils were used to decorate Egyptian tombs and Greek mosaics. From 221-618 AD, stencils were used in China to produce images of Buddha. Japanese artists turned Serigraphy into a complex art by developing an intricate process wherein a piece of silk was stretched across a frame to serve as the carrier of hand-cut stencils. Serigraphy found its way to the west in the 15th century.
The development of screen printing was an evolutionary process shared by numerous unknown artisans in the past.
One who is known was Samuel Simson, who applied for, and was granted a patent in England in 1907 for a process of painting designs on silk. A few years after Simon’s patent, John Pilsworth of San Francisco developed a multicolor process of silk screening called screen printing. It was very much like the method used in the Middle Ages, but this process used a glue-like substance that filled the spaces in the fabric, creating a fixed stencil. The inks were forced through the uncoated areas with a stiff brush.
In the United States, Serigraphy took on the status of art in the 1930s when a group of artists experimented with the technique and subsequently began making “fine art” silk-screen prints and devised the term “Serigraph” to distinguish fine art from commercial screen printing. The first push was provided in the 1950s by Lutpold Domberger in Stuttgart, Germany. He offered his print studio to prominent artists associated with the Op Art movement. Respected artists like Josef Albers and Victor Vasarely combined their artistic visions with Domberger’s relentless pursuit of perfection as a screen-printer. They created superior, finely executed serigraphs that were sought by art galleries and collectors around the world. These efforts, combined with the experimentation of such artists as Jackson Pollack, helped to keep the screen-print medium in the forefront of printmaking.
This sparked an explosion of creativity in the field, which followed in the 1960s, with the next great creative push. The Pop Art movement, and Andy Warhol in particular, gave the medium its ultimate legitimacy in the fine arts. Other great artists of the 20th century who pioneered Serigraphy are Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Erte, Roy Lichtenstein, and more.
The method: Serigraphy (or silkscreen printing) is the romantic island in the big sea of original fine art reproduction since it is produced entirely by hand in close collaboration between the artist/publisher and Kolibri Art Studio, Inc atelier in Los Angeles. It is a time-honored technique, based on stenciling, for creating prints by hand. This classic method of fine-art reproduction involves labor- and material-intensive processes. It is expensive!
The serigrapher (or atelier) must recreate the entire work. It begins by determining how many colors are represented in the original painting. The print studio makes a separate screen for each color to be printed. If there are 70 colors printed, there must be 70 screens prepared created by a chromist (hand color separator artist); they are embedded into the fabric, and ink is passed through a squeegee on the canvas creating a texture on the surface.
Each hand-mixed color is printed with water-based inks then laid on large printing racks to dry. After approximately two to three hours, the next color can be printed. The print grows with every printing, becoming richer and more complete until the artist is satisfied. On an average day, 1 to 2 colors can be printed. At the finishing stage, a textured varnish is applied to simulate one-to-one the brush stroke of the artist. An edition of 300, with 70 colors, can take anywhere from 2 to 4 months to complete. Serigraphs are best known for vibrant colors and the artist/publisher can see and adjust the evolution of the colors through many proofing stages. The depth of color in the resulting fine art serigraph is almost luminous.
They are produced in limited editions to control their rarity; once an edition is completed, the drawings are destroyed, as are the screens.
This ensures that each print is truly a unique, limited-edition piece of art. In today’s age of automated technology and photomechanical reproduction, this kind of fine art printing, truly become a rarity. The amount of time, skill, and effort invested in creating a serigraph edition is reflected in the solid archival qualities and enjoy extreme longevity and are excellent heirloom pieces.
At Christie’s art auctions in New York, serigraphs by living artists have sold as high as six figures USD prices. There are serigraphs, which have been accepted into prestigious art museum collections around the globe.
Because of the meticulous handwork it takes to create a serigraph print edition, each print in the edition is an original. The process yields a fine artwork that increases the serigraph prints in value along with the original painting. The only thing that limits its value is the artist’s notoriety.